Platycladus orientalis 'Van Hoey Smith'

Platycladus orientalis 'Van Hoey Smith' is a loose, vertical upright variegated form of Oriental arborvitae that presents the illusion of painted flames on dark green. Typical rate of growth in most areas is 6 to 12 inches(15-30 cm) a year, resulting in a spectacular beacon, 10 feet tall by 3 feet wide (3 x 1 m) after 10 years in the landscape. Although planting in full sun will result in the best color contrast, it should be noted that the foliage will burn badly in parts of the country with low humidity in the summer.

Confusion exists over the history of this cultivar. Some believe that 'Van Hoey Smith' is a renaming of the old cultivar, 'Aureovariegata.' It is said that J.R.P. Van Hoey Smith sent unlabeled cuttings a grower in the U.S. who adapted the name of the sender to the resulting cultivar. This account needs to be verified if possible.

Platycladus orientalis `Van Hoey Smith' — "a scraggly, messy looking plant. Why did I buy this thing?"
Photo by John Fertig
Platycladus orientalis `Van Hoey Smith'
Photo by John Fertig
Playcladus orientalis 'Van Hoey Smith' — at the Cox Arboretum in Canton, Georgia. Electric foliage!
Photo by Tom Cox


Louise Westrand

You have a name contradiction. Is it Platycladus orientalis‘Van Hoey Smith’ or is it Thuja orientalis `Van Hoey Smith'? Obviously it can't be both!

[Deleted User]

Good eye, Louise. In a former time this binomial was listed under Thuja. Research completed by João Manuel Antonio do Amaral Franco in 1949 convinced the world that Thuja orientalis was sufficiently unique to warrant its own genus. However many have been less willing to make the change. I changed the captions on Mr. Fertig's pictures to correct and make the record consistent with itself. Thanks!

[Deleted User]

oh, and by the way, your ConiferBase editor does not share the opinion that this is a "scraggly-looking plant." I've seen mature specimens of 'Van Hoey Smith' and think they're very nice.

Dennis Groh

Hi David, I had a personal conversation with Dick Van Hoey Smith about this cultivar's nomenclature and I can confirm that Dick sent the plant to the U.S. without any cultivar name attached to it. (If my memory serves me well, the receiving nurseryman added the name just to keep track of the plant and it's origin.) Dick told me he was surprised when he saw the plant listed with his last name as the cultivar name. He was a man with a great sense of humor. Dick could also be brutally frank and honest in his opinions. Sometimes it was difficult to know which was at work at the time. Such is the case when he remarked to me, "I had hoped my name would be associated with a more handsome plant", then he laughed heartily.

Christophe Nourdin

In a part of inventory of last 2001, it's write, by J.R.P van Hoey Smith himself : "Thuja orientalis 'Van Hoey Smith' came from Don Teese in 1982 and was planted in 1987. In America this cultivar was given its name in honour of the author of this book" (=this inventory).